[athen] CHE article on Macs gaining popularity

Berkowitz, Daniel J djbrky at bu.edu
Tue Mar 7 06:03:12 PST 2006

>From the Wired Campus blog


Apple Computer finds that its Macintosh computers are gaining popularity
on campuses thanks to the growing use of iPods for both entertainment
and education. Apple officials have recently reached out to colleges to
try to encourage educational uses for iPods. The latest example is
iTunes U, a program that encourages colleges to distribute recorded
lectures and other course materials using the company's free iTunes
software, which is used to manage and play music and video files and to
transfer them to iPods. Participating colleges essentially get a private
section of the popular iTunes Music Store that only their students and
faculty members can access, where they can download academic material
rather than the newest recordings by Coldplay or the latest skit from
Saturday Night Live. Apple officials have told some academic leaders
that the company might expand the program so that publishers can sell
textbooks or course packets through the iTunes store as well. (The

My comments as posted:

The Access Technology (AT) community has witnessed this trend with a
fair amount of concern as students with disabilities who would otherwise
purchase Windows based PC's are turning to Macs. Students with
non-cognitive issues such as blindness, low vision and mobility
impairments know to steer away from Apple products because there are
simply not as many access options in both hardware and software as for
the PC. Where we have seen an unfortunate increase is in the number of
students with learning disability based print impairments who, having
spent their K-12 years on an IEP and having access to their textbooks in
alternate format [primarily cassette tape] via the learning lab or
resource room with the support of SPED teachers, are unaware of OS and
AT access issues.

As these students prepare to move ahead to postsecondary education, they
will likely acquire a personal computer to fulfill their academic (and
social) computing needs. Without much thought to what access technology
may be necessary or available, students are purchasing Macs based upon
their previous Apple ownership and experiences. As alternate access to
print materials moves away (runs away is more like it) from cassette
tapes to the digital realm of DAISY Talking Books, MP3, Text-to-Speech
programs and the like, we are seeing an increase in both the quality and
quantity of programs for accessing print in alternate formats for
Windows and Linux - but not of the Mac.

In a typical scenario, a student receives an iPod as a gift while still
in High School. As a graduation gift, student receives (or chooses) a
Mac as their college computer. Due to a learning disability, student
registers with the Disability Services office at college and requests
their textbooks in an alternate format. The university has converted its
alt-format process to digital and is, through no fault of its own,
greatly curtailed in their ability to provide equal access to the Mac
user as it is to other students using PC's.

On a positive note, it is anticipated that the switch to Intel
processors will greatly facilitate the development of access
technologies for the Macintosh, especially if (and when) the ability to
boot Windows on the Mac becomes a reality.

Daniel Berkowitz - Assistant Director
Boston University Office of Disability Services
19 Deerfield Street, 2nd floor
Boston, MA 02215

(617) 353-3658 (office)
(617) 353-9646 (fax)
djbrky at bu.edu (eMail)

More information about the athen-list mailing list